She's so Cult

She’s So Cult: Nikki Makeup

Nikki Wolff – affectionately known as Nikki Makeup – is a professionally trained make up artist who’s revered for the versatility and unparalleled performance of her work. From red carpet looks to eccentric editorial creations and exceedingly glowy effects for the everyday, her make up expertise has earned her a legion of rapt followers – 1.6 million and counting! When she’s not augmenting the faces of others, she’s writing beauty columns for Glamour UK to share her impressive insider knowledge. With her finger firmly on the pulse of beauty up-and-comers and the complexion staples every MUA swears by, we’re hanging on Wolff’s every recommendation…

To celebrate joining forces with this powerhouse expert, we *virtually* sat down with Nikki to get the gossip alongside giving us the low-down of her Top 30 {Cult Beauty must-haves}…

{Cult Beauty} Hi Nikki, it’s so lovely to be working with you. To start off, can you tell us a little bit about your career journey and how you came about settling on a career as an MUA?

{Nikki Wolff} I was lucky enough to know what I wanted to do from a very early age, I was beauty obsessed from my early teens and used to delight in shaping my {brows} and coating all my lashes in {mascara}, and applying concealer to my lips with a brow pencil instead of a lip liner! Such was the trend in the 90’s, and one had to be resourceful as a 14 year old. I used to get to do make up on my little sister’s eyes daily, she was always a willing model, and when I reached the age where I had to decide on a career path, I found out that being a make up artist was a real job. I didn’t know exactly how or where I’d do it at the time, but I realised I knew I wanted to make people feel extra beautiful for a living.

{CB} When did you first fall in love with beauty?

{NW} I went to a family birthday party at 5 years old and as a special treat my mum put mascara on me which instantly made me feel party ready. I loved how something so simple could change your look, so even from a young age I was fascinated by it and loved the process.

{CB} Can you describe your go-to make up look in three words?

{NW} Naturally enhanced beauty!

{CB} What’s your biggest beauty secret?

{NW} Brush up your brows and curl your lashes before bed, you’ll be surprised what a difference it makes to how you look first thing!

{CB} Was there a point in your career when you thought “I’ve made it!”?

{NW} There have been a few occasions where make up artists in the industry that I’ve respected or revered for years have told me that they love my work and it is a source of inspiration to them. Those were moments that made me think maybe I really am contributing something special to this space!

{CB} Following on from that, do you have a career highlight?

{NW} I loved doing Kim Kardashian’s make up, firstly because she was absolutely lovely and it was such a fun experience. Secondly, because I got to create something a bit different to her normal glam, and I love the fact that she trusted my vision.

{CB} What’s the best trick you’ve learnt from working backstage?

{NW} A little dab of lipstick looks great pressed into the apples of the cheeks, mixed in with lip balm for a super dewy effect!

{CB} Do you have a favourite model ‘canvas’, or a muse – somebody who you’ve worked with that you always find inspiring?

{NW} I always love working with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley – as well as being extremely beautiful, her face is the perfect canvas for make up and she always has a really strong vision of how she’d like to look.

{CB} We’re all besotted by a certain make up category (ie. lipsticks or highlighters) that we buy more and more of even though we already own 3+ (more like 25+!), which category is your Achilles Heel?

{NW} Lip balm – I keep about seven lip balms in every hand bag. I have different textures for different moods and make sure I’m never more than a few steps away from one in my house.

{CB} Do you have a certain product you stock-up on so you’re never without it?

{NW} My {No-Lash Lash}, from SWEED lashes. Nothing really compared to them, so I always make sure I have some in my stash.

{CB} And if we were to have access to your handbag for a rummage, which beauty item(s) are we guaranteed to find?

{NW} Aside from seven different {lip balms}, you would find a liquid blush, clear brow gel, a miniature mascara, concealer stick and (especially at the moment) a hand cream.

{CB} Do you have any bedside beauty and wellness essentials?

{NW} A silk sleeping mask and pillowcase, overnight lip mask, {lash grow serum} and of course a bottle of water because nothing is as good for your skin as hydration!

{CB} Which pearl of beauty wisdom would you love to tell your younger self?

{NW} Don’t use really strong face peels and {retinols} too young, plus always wear an {SPF}.

{CB} If you could go on a guilt- and budget-free Cult Beauty haul, what would end up in your basket?

{NW} Everything in the {Nikki edit} I think!

{CB} Can you share a beauty myth that really needs to be debunked?

{NW} The myth: waterproof mascara runs less than normal mascara. The truth: Waterproof mascara contains an ingredient that’s broken down by oil, so the oils in your skin or make up can actually cause it to break down more!

{CB} And a beauty fact people need to know?

{NW} Hyaluronic acid draws moisture out the environment so it’s great at keeping your skin hydrated all day long, but top tip – if you’re in a dryer climate, choose something else, as it can draw the moisture from deeper layers of your skin if it can’t get it from the environment.

{CB} What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

{NW} Someone once told me to leave my hair to air dry naturally, then finish the drying process by diffusing only the roots, this created volume while minimising the damage from heat styling.

{CB} Is there a certain product or make up technique we need to be trying in 2021? Or a timeless classic that should be in everyone’s repertoire?

{NW} Use a khol liner to roughly trace the shape you want around your eyes, and then blending it out to create an effortless smoky eye. It’s a look that flatters everyone, can be done by any level of experience, and is endlessly wearable. That’s my idea of a timeless classic.

{CB} How will you be practising self-care this January?

{NW} With a young baby, I don’t have that much time for self care, so I love to treat my skin to a sheet mask whenever I think of it, as it’s so quick and easy, and mess free. That is, until my baby pulls it off my face!

{CB} As face coverings become a standard everyday essential and maskne continues to rise, what products would you recommend adding to your routine to help conceal maskne?

{NW} I would actually go one step further and say treat yourself to a silk mask which you can wear underneath a medical grade mask if needed, which will help to {prevent you getting maskne} in the first place! The hydrophobic and super soft material is a joy to wear too. Then just make sure you’re using a light cleanser twice daily to keep skin fresh.

{CB} Finally, what does ‘cult’ mean to you?

{NW} To me, ‘cult’ is about community and passion. When those two things come together, it creates a cult around whatever that community loves. For me, it’s beauty.


Emmie Thornhill

Emmie Thornhill

Deputy Content Editor

Emmie is Cult Beauty’s Deputy Content Editor. Her love of skin care began in primary school when she first learned the term “hormonal acne” and has been in a love-hate relationship with tea tree oil ever since. She lives in East London – where you can normally find her baking, tending to her plant jungle or planning her next tattoo or hair cut/colour appointment – and is known to start DMCs with you about your birth chart placements, the importance of wearing SPF every day and the difference between a vagina and vulva.